Josang is a god widely worshipped in Korean folk religion, which in narrow terms refers to one’s immediate ancestors or offspring, but in broader terms refers to any deceased relative or unrelated soul that can affect the family.
As a household god, Josang refers to one’s immediate ancestors or offspring, but they are viewed as transcendental beings rather than blood relations. On the other hand, Josang as a shamanic god includes all immediate and extended family, both male and female, and all other deceased souls that can influence the family, including those who died before marriage, who died a tragic or untimely death.
Rituals for Josang as a household god are quite different from shamanic rituals or Confucian memorial services. Rice or mulberry paper is kept inside earthenware jars or baskets as sacred entity and replaced each year, sometimes accompanied by a shamanic ritual. On seasonal holidays, a ritual table is set up in front of the sacred entity and a worship ritual is held for Josang. In some regions, Josang is worshipped as a higher god than Seongju (House Guardian God).
In shamanism, rituals include a Josang segment, in which all the ancestral gods meet their descendants, the shaman serving as a medium of communication. When they meet, the ancestral gods reveal the grievances they carry from their past lives and express gratitude for the devotion of the descendants, promising care and support.
Josang is a deity closely related to the lives of the living, and thus has the biggest influence on them, playing a central role in shamanic belief. In shamanism, it is a widespread belief that lack of devotion in worshipping Josang results in trouble for the descendants, and that a well treated ghost will respond accordingly while an ill-treated ghost will respond accordingly as well.
In other words, despite a strong Confucian tradition of ancestral worship, the shamanic ancestral god Josang was also worshipped in a different manner and form.